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Any style of metal can sound amazing, provided as it’s done right and remembers to keep the metallic nature it is rooted in at the helm. This even holds true for the much loathed style known as groove metal, particularly the half-thrash variety that was pioneered by Machine Head, Pantera and Fear Factory in the early to mid-90s. Ultimately the problem with this style is that it attempted to be a popular alternative to the original thrash style it came out of, thus it consisted mostly of a slowed down and gutted version of something that was meant to be played faster and in a more complex fashion. It defined itself almost exclusively by weakening the positive metal based elements of its roots, thus its identity was as nothing more than an attempt at remaining commercially viable.
In recent times this notion of commercial viability has less of a direct impact on older styles of metal, so room for experimentation became more acceptable, which leads to the advent of “The Passing”, the product of a young band from Sweden called Machinery. Essentially what has been accomplished here is a 100% reversal of the commercialized sense of simplicity, and what emerges is a technical neo-thrash meets groove style with a helping of Industrial elements, compressed into a 9 song assault on the ears that upstages all of the founders of this style. It’s completely free of any sense of monotony, grooves trade hands with speed riffs and even blast beats occasionally, and the melodic material that makes up most of the main themes and choruses avoids being either comical or otherwise nu-metal oriented.
The parts that make up this highly cohesive yet varied whole are highly eclectic, almost to the point of mocking the entire concept of conventional genre categories. The base riff essentially listen like a stripped down version of Teutonic thrash and modern groove thrash, chugging a lot but also traveling quite frequently. The melodic guitar work is largely based in pre-Gothenburg melodic death metal, while keyboard ambiences coat everything with a glimmer of extreme progressing metal. The choruses and a lot of the cleaner sections have a huge power metal character to them, though by no means happy or uplifting in nature, but instead more of a familiar melodic sense of fatalism. Combined with a vocalist who essentially pulls off blackened death barks and clean sung vocals in both middle and high registers with ease, not to mention a highly impressive set of memorable yet technical guitar solos, and you have something that can’t help but keep you guessing.
Just about every song on here can be treated as a highlight, as distinctions lay mostly in whether the band decides to go in a completely melodic direction or if they take the opposite route. Often when exclusively toneless Death barks and shrieks are employed, specifically on “Reason Is The Rush” and “Delirium In Vengeance”, the music will bring forth a melodic chorus through brief instrumental sections, while the verses Thrash out relentlessly with some riffs that give a definite nod of influence from KREATOR’S “Pleasure To Kill”. Most of the clean sung songs change up between speed and groove, not falling into the trap of plodding redundancy that happens to also be repetitious like “Vulgar Display Of Power” did. “I Divine” is an amazing example of how a song can remain largely groovy and yet also stay interesting through clever melodies and atmospheric keyboard detailing.
In spite of being a near perfect listen from start to finish, there are several songs here that can’t help but really stand out. “Dead Man” is just irresistibly catchy, whether it’s the fast paced verses or the slowed down sections, this thing just hits all the right buttons in the melodic department, with or without the vocals. “The Passing” is one of the better works of merging speed metal with Industrial sounds, sometimes sounding like a faster and more threatening version of Fear Factory, at others actually having a slight Depeche Mode character to it. “Waiting For The Wave” is also fairly catchy and quite progressive, upstaging the other songs in the technical department and showcasing competent drumming and guitar work that puts the Abbott brothers on notice.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the greatest groove metal album ever to be put on the store shelf thus far. It essentially avoids every weakness that the style has entirely, and also bolsters the style by reintegrating some of its ancestral lineage on the German thrash side. This is a groove album that fans of death metal and thrash metal can enjoy, as well as the lighter oriented fans of power and progressive metal. It is woefully underrated, definitely too low on the radar given its nature, and requires a much larger audience. Speaking from someone who doesn’t particularly care for groove metal, this is one of the best albums to come out of 2008.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 11, 2009.
What hath groove metal done? To some, the nature provided, and still does, bands of a similar face, while others viewed it as a disease wiping originality away from metal, which is unquestionably a stance many lookers stand upon. Still, Machinery’s “The Passing” is anything but another forlorn effort murdering intelligence within this popular sound, but one welcoming lost attributes others have primarily dropped. Alas, documentation caters something lasting, instead of bland; an item powerful, rather than forgettable; and scenes varied, unlike mimicked. Clearly, they give and perform chromatic arguments we’ve never seen within this formula before, and that’s not to go without mentioning consistency’s presence upon the veins of “The Passing.” In a sea of lost and confused groove/thrash bands, Machinery is fresh air; the squad not only has class, but lots to offer when pressing buttons many would not find comfort in.
Like a stream flows, Machinery glides bone-freezing ambiences driven by revolving percussion, active bass licks, and focused riffs, resulting in a dark, gloomy coldness puncturing thoughts of happiness; instead, grim covers accommodate keen noises hovering about. Atmospherically intact, pounding riffs from both fast and mid-paced planes plummet yielding eardrums with furiousness leaking colorful liquids, not to go without saying the solos are absolutely crucifying. Yet once this set nestles in, our CD appears so smartly balanced, that none can compare to its ideology. Humorously enough, “The Passing” thoroughly disproves claims about groove’s predestined abyss; Machinery shows us how deep and experimental things flow when given needed junctions, paving them alongside successful engines.
However, Michel Isberg leads “The Passing” on levels every vocalist should wholeheartedly attempt. Amid clean structures, Isberg demonstrates chilling contributions matching his musical pillows flawlessly, without mentioning stellar vocals unto effectiveness and performance. Also, his Swedish genetics beam during faster notes such as “Reason is the Rush,” obviously applying death metal steams as he barks similar connections Tomas Lindberg would fundamentally. Both these vocal renditions command Machinery into charging frontiers, waves ahead of equal factions trying newer hits as well. Like a proper child between At The Gates and Machine Head, Isberg does wonders shrieking and singing amongst these patterns; truly scenes of a vocalist that has already found his niche and origin within aboriginal identities.
There is no doubting Machinery acquires a chivalrous scribe beneath tides of mediocre material, especially as Sweden’s haunters impose macabre ideas upon fantastic textures unbeknownst to blinded eyes. “The Passing” is symbolic in its own entity: the record declares new foundations towards groove-laden patterns previously smothered by haphazard ideas, and the group’s major effort provides much more than bland instrumentation reeking of poor worship. But when discussing who rules the land of groove, Machinery unquestionably hunts down competition and survives, as ruler and guardian of decency throughout a corrupted land weakened from conventional confrontations and lackluster performances. If you think groups like Pantera or Machine Head cast magic, wait until this sucker penetrates your ears!
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I reviewed Machinery’s previous album, “Degeneration”, and while there were some decent ideas floating around, they really needed to be fleshed out. It’s great to hear the amount of progress made on “The Passing”, as there are simply so many bands out there with potential that go unrealized.
They still play thrashy, grooving power metal, high on the Nevermore influence, but this time around, the concept has been reworked, and they’re even managing to move away from Nevermore, getting much closer to a signature sound of their own. Every now and then, they’ll pick a strange synthesizer effect to add a little bit of atmosphere, or the odd death growl, or in the case of the song “Reason is the Truth”, death growls through the complete song.
The transformation isn’t quite complete, as Nevermore is still riding high in a lot of the songs, and the death growls aren’t paced evenly through the whole album, so they tend to stick out like a sore thumb, unlike say what Into Eternity might do. Still, if they continue on their current path, I can easily see the next album after “The Passing” gaining tons of attention.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com